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Europa League: Who are Manchester United's main challengers for the trophy?

Thursday 2nd March 2017
After Manchester United comfortably dispatched Saint-Etienne in the last 32 of the Europa League, It's Round and It's White takes a look at who are the Red Devils' main challengers in securing the European trophy.

Roma



The Serie A outfits were given a tough draw to Lyon in the last 16 stages but sitting second in Italy's 
highest division means that they are definitely one of the favourites remaining in the Europa League.

Luciano Spalletti's men are seven points behind Juventus who are first, but are five clear of third-placed Napoli meaning they can have the credentials to go further in this competition.

With the likes of Edin Dzeko, Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi within their ranks, Roma should be serious contenders in their bid to achieve their first UEFA-based competition honour.

Ajax

The Dutch club certainly know their way around a European competition, having won four European cups, one Cup Winners' Cup and one UEFA Cup in their long and prestigious history.

However, in recent times you have to go back to 2014 to when they last gained silverware and that was the Eredivisie but the de Godenzonen are currently second place in that league.

Peter Bosz's side drew FC Copenhagen in the round of 16 and will have to work hard to earn qualification to the semi-finals as the Danish side are a tough team to beat.

Nonetheless, the history and size of Ajax should pose any side some threat in the competition.

Olympiakos/Besiktas



Both these sides have drawn each other for the next round and given they are both at the top of the Greek and Turkish leagues respectively, it's difficult to pinpoint which team would give United a run for their money, should they play each other in the semi-final.

Olympiakos have won their division for the last six years a run that is likely to stretch to seven as they are seven points clear at the top of the Superleague. Also worth noting that Man Utd lost the last time they visited Greece in a 2-0 defeat which they amended by beating Olympiakos 3-0 in the second leg in the Champions League.

Besiktas meanwhile, are top of the Süper Lig by a point with a game and hand, hoping to take their form into Europe by beating Olympiakos in the next round. Şenol Güneş' men will be calling on the likes of Demba Ba and Ricardo Quaresma to guide them to the next stage of the Europa League.

Best of the Rest



Bundesliga sides Schalke 04 and Borussia Monchengladbach have drawn each other in the last 16 of the Europa League and will be hoping that European success can take the attention away from their performances in the league.

As it stands Schalke are 12th whilst Monchengladbach are 10th but given the size of these clubs and the personal they possess, they should not be ruled out from troubling United as the competition goes on.

Jose Mourinho's men will next face FC Rostov and they should not be underestimated either. The Russian club has already beaten the likes of Ajax, Anderlecht and Bayern Munich this year and are an outside bet for the competition crown.
Greg Stubley
Greg graduated with a first in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton in Summer 2016 and has already managed to gain experience in the industry, working for companies such as Charlton Athletic and talkSPORT. Greg is currently the regular commentator on Charlton's "CAFCPlayerHD" service, bringing full-match live commentary along with Terry Smith of Addicks' games up and down the country for subscribers to listen.

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